Memorial for David Lee Metzler
David Lee Metzler &
Heidi Lynn Childs
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Story from the News & Advance 8-27-09
Published: August 27, 2009 - Updated 8-28-09
David Metzler was 19, a graduate of Brookville High School, and was majoring in Industrial & Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech.
Heidi Childs, 18, had been home schooled and was attending Virginia Tech to study biochemistry.
Both were Lynchburg-area natives, attended Heritage Baptist Church and had worked at Mountain Frost Creamery.
Friends of the two said they were dating.
Both were found dead Thursday morning at Caldwell Fields Campground, a daytime-use facility off Craig Creek Road in Jefferson National Forest, according to officials with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Lt. Brian Wright said a passerby found the teenagers’ bodies around 8 a.m., and that the preliminary investigation revealed both suffered gunshot wounds.
Metzler was found inside a vehicle in the parking area of the campground, while Childs was found outside of the vehicle, Wright said.
Both were taken to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke for autopsies.
Authorities are considering the deaths a double homicide, and had not identified a suspect as of Thursday evening.
Sgt. Donald Childs, an aviation sergeant with the Virginia State Police, said his daughter was attending Tech on a full scholarship, and was an honors student.
“She was a fine young lady. ... I have eight children, and you know, the number of children you have has no bearing on your loss,” Childs told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “A wonderful, wonderful girl.”
He said Childs and Metzler had known each other for years and called Metzler a “fine young man.”
Deborah Guthrie, retired assistant principal at Brookville High School, said she was devastated when she heard the news late Thursday.
“David was a wonderful student, gifted student academically and just kind to everyone,” she said.
“We have lost a young man who was destined for great things.”
Sue Jones, of Forest, said she coached Childs, also from Forest, on a home-school cross-country team.
Childs was one of the team’s top runners during her senior year in 2008, Jones said.
“She was just, is in my mind still, just the sweetest, nicest person, and I can’t imagine why somebody would want to do this,” Jones said.
“The world will be a sadder place without her, for sure,” Jones said, adding, “We’re just really praying for her family, because they’re very close.”
Brookville Principal Bruce Abbott, who has been at the reins since former principal Jim Whorley died in a boating accident in December, said he lived next door to the Metzler family, and preferred to keep his feelings private.
“It’s just a tragedy for two families,” he said, adding that Brookville would have counselors on hand for students or faculty who needed comfort following the tragedy.
John Vasvary, retired assistant principal and athletic director at Brookville, said, “I remember when he got accepted to Tech, he came right in to tell me.”
Vasvary, a Tech man himself, liked to give Brookville students who got into his alma mater a little something in honor of becoming new Hokies.
“He was the kind of kid you liked having at the school. He was fun,” Vasvary said, adding Metzler contributed his skills to Brookville’s soccer team.
Metzler remained loyal to Brookville and stopped by a few times after he graduated to visit.
“He was from a good family all around,” Vasvary said.
Metzler’s family had served as missionaries to China, and his father, Keith Metzler, practices medicine in Lynchburg.
The violence hits a campus still feeling the effects of April 16, 2007’s mass shootings that left 32 students and staff dead, and the beheading of a student earlier this year.
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger released a statement lamenting another violent occurrence in the Virginia Tech community.
“Trauma like this is deeply painful to us all,” Steger said in the statement.
“Once again, this community is visited by senseless violence and tragedy upon aspiring young minds from our campus,” he said, adding “I know that many of you likely have complex feelings about now. How can this happen in this area, at this time, to this community?”
Steger urged the community to give counseling to each other, and seek counseling from each other, and also to make use of the college’s counseling center.
“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and will assist in any way possible,” the statement concluded.
Col. W. Steven Flaherty, of the Virginia State Police, also released a short statement, extending condolences to Childs’ family.
“Tonight, the Virginia State Police grieves with Sgt. Donald Childs and his family during this deeply difficult and painful time,” Flaherty said.
“I extend my most heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to his loved ones, along with all members of his state police family. I also ask that you keep the Metzler family in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve for David.”
Dr. Gerald Kroll, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church, said both were very active in the church, and would be missed.
“It’s a tragic day for us here,” he said.
“They were both very faithful and wonderful young people, and it’s a tragic loss.”
Guthrie, Brookville’s former assistant principal, said Metzler’s family had come to Lynchburg after serving as missionaries to China, and that she always saw him succeeding in whatever he did.
“(Metzler) was very dedicated to his projects and learning as much as he could,” she said, adding “always a smile on his face. You never saw David when he was down.”
“The Brookville community, I’m sure, is devastated as well. I know I am,” Guthrie said.
“I just can’t believe why anybody would want to hurt him.”
Jones said she couldn’t imagine anyone would have a motive for killing Childs or anyone associated with her.
“Whatever she did she did with excellence, and so everybody was her friend,” she said.
“This has to be just random because they were just so nice.”
A public prayer group has been started on Facebook for the victims.
As of Thursday evening, no funeral arrangements had been announced for Metzler and Childs.